Alumni Spotlight: Ara Aslanian
Dr. Ara Aslanian currently works at Hotspot Therapeutics, a venture-stage structure-based drug design company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hotspot is a virtual company, meaning all of their “wet work” is conducted by contract research organizations (CROs), which are guided remotely. They are also a platform company, meaning they have no specialty disease area, but allow their technology guide them to the most robust drug targets.
Ara was a founding scientist at Hotspot, and his current title is Senior Director, in vivo and in vitro Biology/Pharmacology. He describes his position as, “In short, I am responsible for setting up all the assays and guiding compounds through every step of preclinical discovery and development including target identification, screening, biophysical validation, mechanism of action studies, pharmacology, and in vivo efficacy.”
Regarding his time at UF, here is what Dr. Aslanian states, “My experience at UF prepared me well for a career in drug discovery. At UF, there is a strong emphasis on scientific rigor and developing critical thought skills, which has served me well at all stages of my career. Also, during my graduate school experience, I had the ability to work on compelling projects that directly relate to human disease processes, which is essential to a career in industry. Finally, effective science presentation skills are needed for success in biotech. In this department, there were ample opportunities to present my work in all manner of settings, which was tremendously valuable for developing this skill. My job has given me the opportunity to do interesting, challenging work, meet brilliant colleagues, and travel around the world – all started with my years as a student at UF!”
Ara is a native of the Boston area, and his education brought him back to the vibrant center of biotech in Massachusetts. He state that he is “married (to another UF B&MB grad) with two children, aged 9 and 14. We live near the city but enjoy all types of year-round sports and activities here in New England.”
“My experience at UF prepared me well for a career in drug discovery. At UF, there is a strong emphasis on scientific rigor and developing critical thought skills, which has served me well at all stages of my career.”